Every spring, I have this fantasy that I'll plant several plants of basil and, come the end of summer, have a bounty for pesto, which I will make, freeze and enjoy during the winter months. Truth is, by the time summer rolls around, the bugs/slugs have eaten their way through all of the leaves and I'm left with some sorry looking plants. This happens year after year. For some unknown reason, I continue to plant basil, but I've also had to resign myself to the fact that if I want basil pesto badly enough...and I do...I'm forced to buy big bunches of basil at the market. And that's exactly what I did this week.
Basil pesto is incredibly easy to make (it requires NO cooking) and it's a great convenience to have a jar of this in the fridge or freezer, at the ready. Apart from its obvious use as an addition to pasta (which can be served either hot or cold -great picnic fare), I brush it on grilled veggies, meats, and fish; I drop a big spoon into soups and stews; I add it into a basic salad dressing (which really makes your salad come alive!); I toss it into roasted potatoes or rice, spread it on crostini...you can really get creative here because that gorgeous, flavor pop is a welcome addition to so many things.
And it freezes beautifully. I save little jars (baby food jars are perfect for this) and keep at least a few jars of pesto tucked away in my freezer, at all times. When I make the time to do this over the summer, I can be assured that in the fall, when the back-to-school craziness is in full swing, I have, at my disposal, a little summer in a jar!
2 c. fresh basil
1/2 c. pignoli nuts
3 cloves garlic
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/3 c. parmeggiano-reggiano cheese
In a blender or food processor, pulse the basil and pignoli nuts until finely chopped. Add garlic and pulse again, until garlic is finely chopped. Slowly pour in olive oil while the blender/food processor is running. Add cheese and pulse again, until well combined.
Spoon into jar(s) and cover the top with a thin layer of olive oil. This will prevent the top of the pesto from browning. Store in frig for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 6 months.
Makes approximately 1 cup of pesto.
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